Opinion By Arthur M. M. Katabalwa | John Patrick Amama Mbabazi – Even The Rank And File Police Are Worried!

Posted July 9, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Opinion ~ 3,388 views


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Opinion — I had just had a casual stroll through the throngs of people at Kira road police station and the tension in the air was palpable. In the heat of the afternoon sun, one was able to see that something momentous was going on. The number of people was definitely swollen by the media about both national and international but it is an atmosphere that one needed to sample.

Uganda is at a crossroads. Anyone who thinks otherwise is in denial. Amama Mbabazi an NRM stalwart and insider until recently decided to stand for the flag bearer of the ruling National Resistance Movement party. Since the multi party system began, the NRM has always had it as given that it would take over power. There have been several elections, some of which have been contested in court but the general feeling has always been that President Yoweri Museveni is invincible. Until, that is, when Mbabazi, affectionately called JPAM by his supporters came on the scene.

Over the last few weeks and months, the electoral narrative has been lead by JPAM. And this with hardly a squeak from him. On occasion, he has said a few words or held a press conference at his house but on the whole he has almost pulled a leaf from the campaign of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Not said much. Yet a lot has been derived from that silence.

JPAM recently put forward his intention to start a consultative process across the country as part of his presidential bid and that is when the whole machine of state coercion came down on him to bear. Today, en-route to his first meeting in Mbale, he was arrested and brought back to Kira road police station in Kampala. The charges are yet to be understood but one source said that it was “preventative arrest”.

The police there are calm on the surface but on closer look, one could see that even they are bewildered. One of them came to the crowd of people where I was standing and one could see that he wanted a certain kind of message passed on. As the people rounded on him, he politely admitted that “we are just doing as we are told” desperately trying to pass on the blame to a higher authority.

In my assessment, probably some of the policemen find themselves between a rock and the deep blue sea. Because you can sense that they are not remote from what is going on. They are aware that they are being used as pawns in a much larger game. Certainly their role in many ways in this continuing saga is questionable. Many times they have been accused of being partisan.

A number of the police outside the police were seen nervously listening in to their radios on the phones. I stopped and realized that these people, however heavily armed they may look, they are part of society and at the end of the day, they will be heading back home to their husbands, their wives, their families. And what is at stake here at Kira road station they too are involved. It affects them. Their masters maybe driving around in massive cars and living in leafy suburbs, but they are on the ground.

One needs to look at how the police is also run. They are walking about like soldiers albeit in blue military fatigues. Whereas the police has become more efficient in recent times, being able to tackle crime, they is a certain element of them which is military in nature. Of course when a public facing force like that travels around in armored cars wielding assault rifles they cannot be seen in a more favorable light.

This afternoon, at Kira road police station, as we journalists and the general public watched in anticipation, waiting through baited breath wondering what next, a group of students in their uniforms made their way through the masses of police. The police let them through without much bother as they headed home from school. But a thought crossed my mind: What future are we making for these kids?

Our grandfathers fought against colonialism and they won. We got independence. Our fathers then fought against bad governance and a lack of political insight with which to take this country. In 1986 that battle was won. Where do we go from here? What are we preparing for these kids walking back home kicking stones with their shoes? That future is being shaped right now as we speak. Whether one is in support of the ruling NRM party or the opposition, the hope is that those kids walking back home have a better future. Let us not mess it up.

By Arthur Mwenkanya Katabalwa —

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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